Since its founding in 1948, Dr. Bronner's Soap has bee involved in many causes, including religious universalism, marijuana legalization, fair trade and organic promotion, and income inequality.
This sort of activism accounts for about half of the company's healthy profits. "If we are not maxed out and pushing our organization to the limit, then what are we doing?" Bronner asks.
"Their activism as a company is not engineered; it wasn't coached by a public relations firm," says Joel Solomon, the president of Renewal Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in socially responsible businesses. "Dr. Bronner's does their thing the way they think it should be done, and nobody is going to change them."
It is this sort of activism that has given the countercultural company so much mainstream success. People are inspired by the company's tenacious attitude, so much so that major corporations like Target have taken notice and started stocking the eccentric soap on their shelves.
Dr. Bronner's recent successes have been largely in part due to David Bronner, the grandson of the founder, taking over as CEO of the business.
According to Mother Jones, "Early on, Bronner decided that he'd rather feel good about his job than worry about making a ton of money. In 1999, he capped the company's top salary at five times that of the lowest-paid warehouse worker... Limiting executive pay and spending virtually nothing on advertising left a lot of extra cash for improving the products and funding social campaigns—which have often gone hand-in-hand."
Though seemingly counterintuitive from a business standpoint, David Bronner's views and approach are clearly working wonders for the brand. You can find Dr. Bronner's soaps virtually anywhere now. Walk into CVS, Duane Reade, and essentially any pharmacy or grocery store and the eccentric label is sure to be sitting on the shelf right next to Dove, Garnier, or any Johnson & Johnson soaps.